20 Jan 2022 09:36

U.S. astronaut Rubio to travel to ISS aboard Soyuz MS-22 if agreement on cross-flights is signed

MOSCOW. Jan 20 (Interfax) - If Russia and the United States sign an agreement on cross-flights, NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio will take a seat on board Russia's Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft in place of Anna Kikina, who will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon U.S. spaceship, Roscosmos said.

"If Roscosmos and NASA sign an agreement on cross-flights, Anna Kikina is expected to travel to the ISS within the prime crew of the Crew Dragon spaceship (USCV-5 flight), which is due to blast off in August 2022, while NASA astronaut Francisco Rubio will join the prime crew of the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft instead of her," the space corporation said.

The interagency commission has endorsed the composition of the crews to head to the ISS in 2022-2025, it said. In particular, the crews of the Soyuz MS-21 and Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft have been approved. If the cross-flights agreement is not signed with the U.S., the Soyuz MS-21 crew will include Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveyev, Sergei Korsakov, while the Soyuz MS-22 crew will be made up of Sergei Prokopyev, Dmitry Petelin and Anna Kikina.

"Apart from that, cosmonauts selected in 2018 have been included for the first time in the crews of Soyuz MS spaceships due to lift off in 2023-2024. They are Konstantin Borisov, Alexander Gorbunov, Alexander Grebyonkin, Alexei Zubritsky, Sergei Mikayev, and Oleg Platonov," Roscosmos said.

Francisco Rubio, a former U.S. Army pilot, flew UH-60 helicopters during the operations in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was selected to begin NASA astronaut candidate training in 2017. The upcoming mission will be Rubio's first flight as an astronaut.